I'm Living Below the Line for HIAS Because HIAS Saved My Life

By Anna Vesely, Guest Author

When I was only six months old, HIAS saved my life.

I was a very sick infant. In fact, I almost starved to death. So why would I voluntarily agree now to live on $1.50 a day for five days? Because HIAS saved my life as a child, and this is how I’m giving back.

I am from Ukraine where, 19 years ago, medical professionals could do little to help me or my desperate parents. By helping my family reach the U.S., HIAS literally saved me. I was able to get superior health care that restored me to health.

In the U.S., I have opportunities that I would not have had as a religious minority in Ukraine. Here I can get a world class university education. Here I will have the opportunity to find a fulfilling job where I can use that education. Here my parents and I are free from persecution.

Now I’m taking the Live Below the Line challenge for HIAS. From April 28 to May 2, I will join thousands of others across the world in a global movement to help end extreme poverty. I’m doing this because I want to raise awareness about the millions of refugees battling extreme poverty worldwide, and I want to raise funds for HIAS, an organization that works tirelessly to improve their lives.

A year ago I became a HIAS scholar, joining a community of young professionals and students furthering HIAS’ mission of protecting refugees. I learned about the strife of refugees today and lobbied members of Congress for refugee rights. The experience opened my eyes to the need for raising awareness about the daily struggles of refugees—including extreme poverty and hunger.

I’m starting a team for HIAS at my school, The University of Virginia: I’m reaching out across my campus asking for volunteers to embark on the Live Below the Line challenge with me. I’m connecting with student groups that I’m already a part of and organizations dedicated to service and Jewish community development. In building awareness through this campaign, I hope those who join my team will become activists for refugee rights.

If I can do it, so can you. Will you join me?

Sign up and start a team for HIAS now. Together we can go even further!

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